High tensile steel may have ten times the tensile strength of wood, and more than twice that of mild steel, but it would be a mistake to overestimate the importance of this single quantity, as Fuller seems to do (see Steel).

The toughness of metals is generally reduced by the process of increasing their tensile strengths, but the failure of a structure may be due largely to the stiffness, rather than the strength of the materials used. (Gordon 1978, p.105)

The larger the structure of buildings and ships, and so on, the lower the acceptable stress, for safety reasons. It follows that high strength metals are more safely used in small structures. This should perhaps be borne in mind when contemplating megastructures.



Paul Taylor 2001